What Ancient Smells Repel Cockroaches

Discover Ancient Smells that Repel Cockroaches

smells to repel cockroaches

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Once cockroaches establish a colony it can be very hard to remove them. They are among the hardest of insects, able to survive in both the arctic and tropics. This means its good to prevent them from even wanting to enter your home. One way to do this is by knowing what the ancient Egyptians used to repel cockroaches. The internet abounds with recipes of cockroach repellents. However few of these are scientifically backed. Lets take a minute to look at a few scientifically proven answers to, what smells repel cockroaches.

What Smells Repel Cockroaches, Peppermint Oil

Peppermint is a herb that can be found throughout Europe and North America. Use of peppermint can be traced back to ancient Egypt. In modern times peppermint oil is used for digestive issues, head aches, the common cold, as a fragrance, and as an insect repellent.

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  • 100% pure peppermint oil.
  • 2 oz container
  • Comes with dropper for easy use



Cockroaches can be repelled and even killed with mint oil. That was the conclusion of a 2001 study by the Auburn University department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. The study tested cockroaches response to direct contact with mint oil, mint oil fumes, and surfaces coated with mint oil. Mint oil was fatal to cockroaches when concentrations of 3% or greater were either applied directly or diffused in closed spaces. When mint oil was applied to a surface near cockroaches over 92% of the roaches avoided the mint coated surface.

peppermint oil repels cockroackes

Peppermint by: Aleksa Lukic

The researchers concluded that “at concentrations of 3% or greater, mint oil is toxic and repellent to both American and German cockroaches. Mint oil also volatilizes rapidly in an open environment unlike most conventional insecticides and leaves little or no residue.” Mint oil is generally considered a pleasant smell and commonly used in food, drink and perfume products throughout the world. The wide spread use and approval of mint flavored and scented products makes mint oil an excellent option for pest control.

What Smells Repel Cockroaches, Catnip

Growing up to 30 inches tall, catnip is a perennial plant that can be found throughout the world including North America. Its hardy drought and deer resistant qualities, plus its various uses, make catnip a staple in many gardens.

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  • Great sedative for stress
  • 100% certified pure nepeta cataria
  • Per bottle testing including organoleptic testing from Robert Tisserand, and multiple rounds of GC-MS testing by several other third-party laboratories



Repelling cockroaches can now be added to the list of uses for Catnip. While most often used for entertaining cats, or herbal remedies scientists from Iowa State University discovered catnip can repel roaches. Nepetalactone is believed to be the active ingredient in catnip responsible for the smells that repel cockroaches.

However you may need to do more then just placing catnip around your house. To isolate nepetalactone researchers needed to boil the leaves. Boiling catnip and spraying the resulting tea could provide results similar to the Iowa University study.

catnip repels cockroaches

What Smells Repel Cockroaches, Rosemary

Rosemary is a perennial herb found through North America. It has been used for thousands of years for its in cooking, medicine and recently as an insect repellent.

Cockroaches avoid Rosemary oil

Rosemary Flowers by: Margalob

Rosemary can repel and kill cockroaches according to a 2016 study. The study tested effects of five essential oils cockroaches. Rosemary oil was found to be an effective repellent and toxin. Cockroaches placed in direct contact with rosemary oil died as did cockroaches fumigated with rosemary oil.

  • Average custormer review ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
  • 100% pure rosemary oil.
  • 4 oz container
  • Comes with dropper for easy use



What Smells Repel Cockroaches, Oregano Oil

Oregano is another perennial herb grown throughout the world. As with the previous herbs oregano has been used for centuries in cooking and can also be used for pest control.

oregano repels cockroaces

Oregano by: Ivar Leidus

Oregano oil was also found to be effective in the same 2016 study that validated rosemary oil. The researchers actually determined oregano oil to be the most effective oil tested. Oregano oil repelled cockroaches up to one week after application. A 2008 study also found oregano oil to be as effective as synthetic insecticides.

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Essential Oils Recipe

Now that we know what essential oils to use, we need to know how to use them. High quality essential oils are not cheap so they should be used as directed. This means not applying directly applying pure essential oils. Essential oils should always be dissolved in a proper recipe. Below is a recipe based on recommendations from the Tisserand Institute

  • 1oz 190proof alcohol
  • 2 3/4 oz distilled water
  • 1 1/2 tea spoon essential oil

Using a Spray Bottle for Essential Oil

Once you have a good essential oil mix you need to apply it where you see the roaches. This came be accomplished by using a spray botttle to apply the essential oil mix where you saw the roaches. Remember that once you put essential oils in the spray bottle you should not use it for anything else. So it a good idea to use a specific bottle for this. You also need to remember that light can degrade essential oils so use a dark glass bottle, and store it in a cool and dark location. Heat and light will degrade the potency of your mixture.

Smells that are Believed to Repel Cockroaches

The previously mentioned oils are scientifically backed answers to what smells repel cockroaches. However the internet is full of other supposed recipes for what smells repel cockroaches. Since some of these may have worked for someone at some point they may be worth mentioning.

  • Garlic
  • Lavendar
  • Neem Oil
  • Soapy Water
  • Lemons
  • Bay Leaves
  • Cucumbers

Why Use Natural Pest Repellents?

Most synthetic pesticides claim to have low toxicity and little risk to humans when used appropriately. However even when used appropriately these substances can have unintended consequences. Pesticides and poison traps used indoors can be ingested by children and pets. When used outdoors pesticides often end up in local creeks. These chemicals are often extremely toxic to fish and other aquatic animals along with the birds and mammals that prey on them.

Plant based products such as essential oils can also have unintended consequences such as if used around cats. However if used correctly these products can repel cockroaches and are usually gentler on the environment. Depending on the se

Depending on the severity of your cockroach problems you may need to go beyond using essential oils. If you are fighting a full on infestation then you need to pull out the big guns! Thankfully we have a full article detailing the various options available when you need to get rid of cockroaches fast! Along with learning how to get rid of cockroaches we also provide an overview of the various species of cockroaches you could be dealing with and how you need to change your approach depending on the species. Check out our article How to Get Rid of Cockroaches!

Cockroach Facts

In this blog we often remind our readers of the famous quote from "The Art of War", "Know your enemy". With that in mind its good pratice to understand what makes cockroaches ticks. There are about 4,500 varieties of cockroaches world wide, and 69 of these are found in the United States. Better still only a few of the species found in the United States will invade your house. Check our article on How to Get Rid of Cockroaches for photos and descriptions of the ones could be in your house.

Along with knowing the type of cockroach that is crawling around your house you need to know what attracts them. In this regard cockroaches are like most other living creatures, they want food, water, and shelter. Eliminate any one of these three and you will reduce if not eliminate your cockroach problems.

Its important to rememeber that even a minor amount of food or water could be enough to support a cockroach colony. Something as simple as drops of water in the sink will provide ample water. A few crumbs in the pantry or a bag to chew through will provide food. All water and food need to be sealed up to help repel cockroaches.

Few pests are as dreaded as cockroaches. According to the World Health Organization cockroaches are known to transmit various diseases such as:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Typhoid Fever
  • Dysentery
  • Cholera
  • Leprosy
  • Plague
  • Typhoid fever
  • Parasitic worms

If this article got you interested in cockroaches we'll leave you with an animal planet episode about about a cockroach infestation!

Another pest many people are dealing with is ticks. Learn how to deal with ticks in our article How to Get Rid of TIcks Naturally.